TEAD proteins are transcription factors that are crucial for development, but also play a role in cancers. Several developmentally and pathologically important genes are upregulated by TEADs. TEADs have a TEA domain that enables them to bind specific DNA elements and a transactivation domain that enables them to interact with coactivators. TEADs on their own are unable to activate transcription and they require the help of coactivators. Several TEAD-interacting coactivators are known and they can be classified into three groups: (1) YAP and its paralog TAZ; (2) Vgll proteins; and (3) p160s. Accordingly, these coactivators also play a role in development and cancers. Recent studies have shown that TEADs and their coactivators aid in the progression of various cancers, including the difficult to treat glioblastoma, liver and ovarian cancers. They facilitate cancer progression through expression of proliferation promoting genes such as c-myc, survivin, Axl, CTGF and Cyr61. There is also a good correlation between high TEAD or its coactivator expression and poor prognosis in various cancers. Given the fact that TEADs and their coactivators need to work together for a functional outcome, disrupting the interaction between them appears to be a viable option for cancer therapy. Structures of TEAD-coactivator complexes have been elucidated and will facilitate drug design and development.
Keywords: TAZ; TEAD; Vgll proteins; YAP; cancer.